National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1886-1906: We encounter prosperity and its perils in an industrial age

November 8, 1892
The People’s Party denounces corruption and corporate power

Populist Cartoon

We seek to restore the government of the Republic to the hands of the ‘plain people’…We assert our purposes to be identical with the purposes of the National Constitution.
–People’s Party platform

This year’s national election campaign saw something different—candidates from a new “People’s Party,” formed by discontented farmers and workers throughout the southern, mountain and prairie states. Their fiery platform had sharp words for big businessmen and their friends in government, charging that more wealth is ending up in fewer hands. “The fruits of the toil of millions,” they say, are being “stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few.”

The Populists called for direct election of senators; an income tax; limits on “undesirable emigration”; and government ownership of the railroads and telegraph lines.

Opponents call their ideas dangerous and unconstitutional. But the Populists have clearly struck a nerve.

In last week’s presidential election, their candidate won four states, and one million votes—an all-time record for a third party.

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